DeKALB – It’s safe to say every Northern Illinois football player was anxious to start training camp this week. But none seemed more eager to put on his helmet than Scott Wedige.
The Huskies redshirt junior spent three years behind first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection Eddie Adamski – a four-year starter for the Huskies – on the depth chart.
But after years of having his patience tested, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Elkhorn, Wis., native finally will take his place as a starter on the NIU offensive line.
“It’s been really hard for me, sitting for three years back, but it’s finally here so I get to finally play,” Wedige said. “I’m ready to take my turn I guess.”
The NIU coaching staff saw enough from Wedige during a few fill-in appearances the last few seasons to feel he’s ready for the job.
“Scott’s the classic case of he might’ve been able to go to another school and play earlier, a smaller school or whatever,” NIU offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said after Friday’s practice at Huskie Stadium. “He just bided his time. He got better and better, took a few butt-chewings from me early on, but he fought through it, and now he feels like this is his group, like it’s his time.”
But Wedige isn’t putting added pressure on himself to be Adamski, Part II.
“I’m just trying to go in and do my best and play hard and just do as best I can within my means,” Wedige said. “Eddie’s a hard guy to replace. He’s a great leader, a great teacher, but I’m trying to hit the ground running. I’ve been here long enough.
“I feel like I can come in hopefully teach some of the guys, do my best and play hard.”
Wedige whetted his appetite for playing time the last two years by earning spots on special teams, including the kickoff return and extra-point squads. He also has practiced at fullback for goal-line situations.
As Adamski’s heir apparent, Wedige took pointers – including footwork, on-the-field demeanor, calling out plays and being the “quarterback of the offensive line” – from the All-MAC center during their three years together.
“We always talked about working our craft,” Wedige said. “It’s something that takes time, and he had excellent footwork. He always taught me and we always critiqued each other if we had any little small things.”
Now as the unquestioned starting center for NIU, Wedige has taken a few of the younger Huskies interior linemen under his wing, tutoring the finer points of his center craft, like Adamski did for him.
“I know he can do it, and I know he’s mentally prepared,” Limegrover said. “He took our freshman center and watched a ton of film. He worked as hard as any o-lineman we’ve had. He’s put his work in.”